18th February 2015 Got up at 5 am. It was my first night, sleeping inside the car in this…‘IN THE CAR ON THE CAR’ trip. Although I did not have continuous and sound sleep still enjoyed the whole thing. Even after sleeping for just 3-4 hours and waking up at 5am, I was feeling very fresh. May be because my mind was enjoying. There was a beautiful stream nearby and lalpari was parked on the bridge over it. It was good to step out of the home (car) at that time of the morning which in Punjab we call it amrit vela (dawn) . The sweet murmuring sound of the stream and chirping of the birds was amazing experience.
A cup of tea and a bund later I was on my way to the next destination…chal bhai mitra agle shehar. I was not sure of the destination though. My initial plan was to drive from Dalhousie-Khajjiar-Jot-Chowari-Sihunta to Shapur. Since road near Lakkad Mandi was closed due to excessive snow, I chose to drive on Nainikhad-Tanuhatti-Kakira-Lahru-Sihunta-Shahpur road. There were many places hovering in the mind. Like Boh, Sally, Naddi, Dharamkot, Mcleodganj, Palampur, Bir, Barot…still I was not sure where I was going to spend the night that day.
I needed to use toilet. Even back home this is the first thing I need in the morning after waking up. So drove, looking for right place to ease. So early in the morning, still dark, I was not able to select the right place quickly. Things were getting tougher though. Near Kakira it became unbearable. I parked the car on one side of the road in a hurry, picked up bottle of water in one hand, torch in the other and got lost in the woods for a while. When I reemerged back on the road, peace and relief was restored.
Mind was back on track again. I saw a shop on the road. The flashback begun. It was Kakira. Long ago….20 years to be precise, I was on my Yamaha RX 100 riding from Dalhousie to Dharamshala with my wife and 2 year old daughter (The same who gifted me DSLR on my birthday) as pillion. It was 5pm. Exactly at this place, my bike got punctured. I left my wife and daughter here with a shopkeeper and requested him to take care of them until I was back.
When I returned back after 2 hours from Nainikhad at 7pm, it had gone dark. I found my wife and daughter sitting in the shop waiting for me. She told me that shopkeeper wanted to close the shop but she sternly told him that he couldn’t. Brave women. We rode to Dharamshala thereafter riding in pitch dark and bad road. The year was perhaps 1994.
The drive from Nainikhad to Shahpur was just amazing. I witnessed darkness giving way to dawn, sunrise, sky changing million colours, birds flying with joy, mountain scenery changing even minute. Beautiful winding streams. cool village life. People getting up and beginning their daily chores. Children in uniform going to school. Farmers working in the fields. Shopkeepers opening shops. Buses plying.
The landscape on this stretch is beautiful. The road after Lahru is in bad shape though. Work was in progress and hopefully will be complete soon. The area is progressive. You will see large green field, orchards and beautiful modern homes along the road.
Just after Sihunta stopped the car near a village. Saw a tap. Brushed the teeth. Liked it. Encouraged, shaved with the help of car mirror. Encouraged, took out steel tumbler, poured water over my bare body, head and took bath. In 30 minutes every thing was over. Loved it. Felt very fresh.
The Dhauladhar range is a southern branch of the main outer Himalayas. It rises from the plains to the north of Kangra. Dharamshala lies on its southern spur and divides Kangra Valley from Chamba. Triund – Ilaqua Ghot are the nearest and most accessible snow line in the Indian Himalayas.
Love this place Kandbari. Its steep ascend to the left from the road near Banuri. Went up and deep around 10 km till the road ends. I keep coming to this place time and again as the view of this bridge, the villages beyond, farms of Kandbari have always amazed me.
Skipped Boh and Sally as weather was murky and view of dhauladhar was not good for photography. Had breakfast at Gaggal. Drove to Chamunda. Did not feel like stopping. Continued till Palampur. Enjoyed resting in the car, parked in tea garden. Reached Palampur. Did not feel like stopping. Went to Matt village to have a look at my friend’s home (Mr Harsh Khullar). Liked the village. Liked the home. View of the Dhauladhar from Matt was amazing.
Skipped Baijnath, Joginder Nagar, Bir, Barot and continued the drive…….still not sure where to spend the night. It was drizzling. Evening was setting in. I was not feeling all that great as well. May be because I did not have great sleep the previous night.
Reached Mandi. It became dark. Started raining heavily. Not sure still…continued driving. Reached Ner Chowk. Still raining. Stopped the car near a dhaba. Took dinner. Asked whether it was safe to sleep in the car near their dhaba? On assurance, parked the car near the dhaba. Went inside the car. Pulled the covers down. Locked the door from inside. Pushed into the sleeping bag and went to sleep.
This time had a sound sleep. May be because I did not sleep well the night before. Amazing drive and wonderful night…the 2nd of IN THE CAR ON THE CAR trip. It kept on raining throughout night though!!!